The Role of the Russian Orthodox Church in preparation and implementation of the pea reform on the Ukrainian lands (late 50’s – mid 60’s of XIX c.)

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Oleksandr Mareiev


Introduction. In the second half of the XIX century the participation of the Orthodox clergy in social processes is gradually gaining a pronounced socio-political color, the political ideals of the clergy are traced. Social reforms of the 60-70's of the XIX century. led to intense attempts to reform the church itself, as it, as a dominant denomination in the Russian Empire, had considerable potential to influence the faithful. Therefore, it is no coincidence that the functions of clarifying the reform provisions, their propaganda, and the neutralization of peasant resistance were assigned to the Orthodox clergy. This article proposes to highlight the involvement of the Russian Orthodox Church in the reform processes in Ukraine, as most of the available research has concerned the Russian Empire as a whole, which is why no systematic historical work on this topic has been created.

Purpose. The purpose of the article is to trace the role and functions of the Russian Orthodox Church in the preparation and implementation of peasant reform on February 19, 1861 in Ukrainian lands.

Results. The potential of the Russian Orthodox Church in the empire, and in particular in Ukraine, created unlimited opportunities for the ecclesiastical and psychological influence on the population, since the law declared it the official church institution of the empire.

By the time of the Great Reforms, there was an alliance between the supreme power and the Church. Their interdependence was also determined by the national idea, which was reflected in the formula of Minister of National Education S. Uvarov: «Orthodoxy, Autocracy, Nationality». These three pillars of the Russian Empire were to consolidate the country, and the church was to sanctify the policy of the imperial house. That is why it was involved in the development of provisions on peasant reform. In particular, the author of the Manifesto of Alexander II was one of the famous ecclesiastical figures of the nineteenth century. – Metropolitan Filaret (Drozdov), who ruled the diocese for almost half a century. To appease the peasantry dissatisfied with the reform, the Synod was invited to develop a special instruction for the priests, which would indicate their responsibilities during the reform. The preparation of such instruction was entrusted to the same Metropolitan Filaret, who obliged the priests to suppress the «indignation» at its initial stage, to persuade the peasants to seek «relief» lawfully, «without spreading concern in society», without departing from under the control of management and landlords. However, the situation in the regions was different. While in the southern dioceses the population tolerated the reform, then in the western and central - often conflicts occurred. Therefore, the clergy actually became a kind of «mouthpiece» of the reform, bringing to the population its meaning and corresponding various orders of local authorities.

Conclusions. The great reform took place in the conditions of close interaction between the authorities and the church. As a powerful structure, the Orthodox Church in Ukraine has been actively involved in its preparation and implementation. The clergy of all levels of the church hierarchy were involved in the reform. The church was involved in the preparation and clarification of major reform documents among the pastors themselves, as well as in the peasant environment, in direct involvement in the distribution of land. The Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine has taken on peasant protests, thereby breaking down those who pacified farmers' speeches, and those who sympathized with them and even stood up for their interests. However, the church as a whole proved to be a reliable ally of the state apparatus and affirmed the cesarepapist nature of state-church relations.

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